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How Successful Are Negative Ads in a Political Campaign?

Ads in the presidential race have gone negative and are expected to continue on that trend for the balance of the campaign. How successful do you think these tactics will be?

“All of those negative ads that he’s running won’t do a thing to lower your gas prices or to lift up the debate in this country,” said then candidate Barack Obama about ads that were being run by his opponent, Sen. John McCain, in 2008. “The fact is, these Washington tactics do the American people a disservice by trying to distract us from the very real challenges that we face.”

But that was than and now and this is now.

ABC News Blogs report that despite that statement, the Obama campaign has been flooding Iowa and eight other battleground states with TV ads attacking Republican rival Mitt Romney for his financial investments and alleged ties to outsourcing. Although he decried it four years ago, a sluggish economy and tight race appears to have set the president on a path to using those same tactics himself. ABC News reports that of the 68,000 plus Obama ads that aired between June 2 and July 2, about 52,000 were negative. Republicans say they are an attempt to distract voters from the president’s actual record.

It could be argued that the ads do not “lift up the debate in the country,” but the real question is, do they work?

Are you likely swayed by negative ads in any campaign? Do you listen to what is said in negative ads and will the information likely change your vote?

Sharon Swanepoel July 13, 2012 at 04:24 PM
I agree that they work, specifically with the people who are undecided, for the reasons you mention Gail. However, I think there also is a certain sector - like myself - that you risk putting off. It could be argued though, and probably successfully in many of the cases, that the people you put off you might not have really had anyway. Although not always the case. I met one of the candidates for office a couple of weeks ago and really liked him, until he went negative. I certainly wasn't 100 percent sold on the opponent, but I think my gut is going to push me that way and the negativity is playing a large part in it. I'm big on tell me what you can do, not what your opponent can't.
Sharon Swanepoel July 13, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Someone's going really hard after Beaudreau. Does the postcard say whose campaign it is from?
Kristi Reed (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 04:36 PM
It lists the sender as someone by the name of Joe Newton. I tried to call the number on the website and got voicemail.
Gail Lane July 13, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I haven't seen that one, Kristi. Do you think it will have the desired effect of do you think it will drive undecided voters to consider Mike more positively? And I guess we have to figure out where the "line" is of ugly negative that is poorly delivered.
Gail Lane July 13, 2012 at 05:05 PM
I'm with you, Sharon. To hear it from someone's own mouth during a campaign is very disagreeable to me.
Michelle Couch July 13, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Who ever is responsible for wasting all the money on the attack robo-calls, the attack postcards, etc..pertaining to Commissioner Beaudreau - I certainly don't want them representing my district! That speaks to how they spend campaign money, and it reflects on how they will spend taxpayer money.
Ed Varn July 13, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Attack ads are very effective in that they require the opposing candidate to spend more time defending his(her)self and less time on message.
M.K. OSBORNE July 13, 2012 at 05:16 PM
I look at the facts to determine validity , if it checks out then its game on , if not i disregard it.
M.K. OSBORNE July 13, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Is the negativity false statements ? Or is it the truth or facts that appear as a negative to the people it pertains to because it is brought into the open as part of there record.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 13, 2012 at 05:37 PM
It's Election time in Gwinnett...
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 13, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Is it this Joe Newton? http://politicalvine.com/politicalrumors/georgia-races/if-you-value-your-own-privacy-pay-close-attention-to-what-is-written-here/ And the beat goes on... the beat goes on on on on .
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 13, 2012 at 06:25 PM
http://www.peachpundit.com/2006/07/11/the-saga-continues/ Bill McKinney - Kevin Kenerly and the former Snellville Mayor currently running has him as the current Campaign manager? EWWW! “I realize this is confusing, but Gwinnett politics often is. Loyalty is often non-existent as demonstrated by the fact that Kenerly hired McKinney earlier this year to find out who might be running against him. McKinney took the money even as he himself was searching for a candidate to challenge Kenerly (and then filed an ethics complaint when Kenerly failed to report the payment). In fact, McKinney approached me about taking Kenerly on last year earlier this year.” by Buzz Brockway http://www.gwinnettgazette.com/main/section/6-guests/470-levell-responds-to-last-minute-attacks The Shirley Lasseter campaign for District 1 Commissioner has finally shown its true colors. In today's edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post, and in an automated phone call to District 1 voters, Shirley's agent, Joe Newton, distributed a series of lies and falsehoods about Bruce LeVell's record and his positions on the issues.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 13, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Well if you poke around a bit you’ll find that Mike B and Loraine Green were allies back in the 2006 – 2008 time period. Landmark Com, Kevin Kenerly, the whole stinkin mess still stuck to our shoes…
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 13, 2012 at 08:32 PM
This just in: Under “The 10 things to do this weekend” brought to you by … Ex-customer http://www.mikethesleaze.com/ I guess time will tell us, but there are some really sharp knives out there. Time to view and comment.
Kristi Reed (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 08:43 PM
That image on the website is the same one that was on the postcard.
M.K. OSBORNE July 13, 2012 at 09:44 PM
Some good connect the dots on here , i can understand why one would scramble the troops on this.
EthicsInGwinnett July 13, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Joe Newton is behind these attacks. He openly supported Bannister's two campaigns and now he claims Beaudreau was part of the Bannister clan? HA! By the way, Newton is under investigation in DeKalb for harassing a female candidate at her home trying to intimidate her out of a race for House of Representatives. http://brookhaven.patch.com/articles/roberts-residency-challenge-ridiculous Roberts' residency was proven and she will be on the ballot. Not only is Joe Newton a thug he's a liar.
M.K. OSBORNE July 13, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I liked the Ricoh copier transaction story .
M.K. OSBORNE July 13, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Im checking each source they provided as back up , and it may just be one of those negatives because it went main stream . Joe may be indeed what you stated or he may have did some reverse lobbying that is not suitable for the incumbents pallet.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 13, 2012 at 11:22 PM
I think we have been "faxed" ...
M.K. OSBORNE July 13, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Just the FAX ma'am !
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 14, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Paging EthicsInGwinnett... Cleanup in aisle 9 please, It seems that we may have been "reamed"
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 14, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Three sides to every story .... Those of you who believe that homestead exemption is the deciding factor in determining residency need to remember a few facts. Like the Powell case from 2008 where a homestead exemption question could not keep a candidate off the ballot. Or the Williams case from 2004 where a homestead exemption question could not keep a candidate off the ballot. by Charlie Another view from the Peach Pundit peanut gallery of Mr. Salty Cracker: "I have no dog in this hunt but have to chuckle with the double speak between residence and homestead and living where. Her explanation is she lives in the district (now) – Rose Ridge – & has lived in DeKalb for 20 yrs.(street/district ?) to obfuscate the accusation. The law says if you own it 1/1 you are eligible for homestead exemption and: “To be granted a homestead exemption, a person must actually occupy the home, and the home is considered their legal residence for all purposes.” She can certainly call either or both homes her “occupied” residence but the one she homesteads is the legal residence for all purposes. Any of us owning two or more homes and our CPA’s are acutely aware of this & filing more than one homestead exemption is illegal. “errant” would have to be a total screw up on DeKalb’s part from the exemption on record not one that a filer got “confused” on. That’d be easy to clear up." http://www.peachpundit.com/2012/06/12/roberts-responds-to-residency-challenge-2/
EthicsInGwinnett July 14, 2012 at 03:59 AM
R, An Administrative Law Judge already ruled that Roberts will be on the ballot. Joe Newton's thugish behavior failed. Now Joe is turning his attacks toward Beaudreau and once again the facts are not on his side. Not that he cares, he's trying to help Jerry Oberholtzer just like he helped Bannister, Lassiter and Heard. The Bannister cabal lives on!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew July 14, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Even the names just strung together like that sounds like a law-firm now doesn't it? As I posted earlier from the political wonks, it appears the homestead exemption can't be used as the sole source in contesting ballot listing, but the flip side is that its still the legal residence of record for which there can be only one at a time... SO liar may not always apply. So I hope there's more to the response than just name calling, our future is at stake here. PLEASE don't tell us we are pinning our hopes on a phone bill... Because we WANT the TRUTH!!
Karsten Torch July 14, 2012 at 03:59 PM
Even though we kinda drifted from the OP, I'm going to go ahead and bring us back to the idea. Negative ads, unfortunately, work very well. People hear negative things and generally believe them, without bothering to verify. It's just the way it is. Truth is, though, Obama's campaign really doesn't have a lot of choice. Not like there's a lot of positive to run on. Still very high unemployment, an unpopular health care bill, ridiculous spending, a proposed budget that not even any Dems voted for, there's really nothing he can throw out there to sound positive. Tried spinning the spending thing to place all the spending done his first few months on Bush, didn't work for him. So in this campaign, it's all we're going to see from that side. Probably the same thing with Romney, as his accomplishments all sound like a playbook for the liberals, given where he comes from. And we all know that won't work very well with the conservative base. He's got experience creating jobs and a successful business career, so any positives are probably going to center around that, but honestly, how far can it go?
Bonnie July 14, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Sharon & Tammy - you are SPOT on - I couldn't agree more. If a sitting President can't run on his own record he shouldn't be running at all!
M.K. OSBORNE July 14, 2012 at 07:48 PM
Negative ads that are untrue and for the sole purpose to mislead voters or ads that are true and backed up by records or documents to inform voters of a candidate's record , some candidates would cry foul on this as a Negative ad also because it is brought into the light for all to remember and revisit . ? Which one are you addressing as a negative ad ?
Sharon Swanepoel July 15, 2012 at 04:17 PM
Back in Africa we had a saying, "Take power by the spear - rule by the spear." I have found much the same with candidates who tend to get elected through negative campaigning. Somehow that attitude always seems to following them into office and we end up with deadlock. Once in office, they can't seem to get along with anyone there either. A respectful campaign ends up with respectful winners and losers. I've seen this happen in elections from the top of the ticket all the way down. It's usually not just the "not so negative" opponent who loses, but a whole bunch of taxpayers too.
Dwayne July 15, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I'd rather hear them tell the truth and hold them accountable. If someone got votes because of a lie they told, then that should be some sort of campaign fraud. No negative ads necessary, maybe a good bond hearing though. That would get rid of half of the negative ads and dirty politicians. As far as the other half, they risk losing votes to the better campaigner. Some people vote based on ethics i/o political position.

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